Oshin Vartanian's research while affiliated with University of Toronto and other places

Publications (128)

Article
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There is a notion that mathematical equations can be considered aesthetic objects. However, whereas some aesthetic experiences are triggered primarily by the sensory properties of objects, for mathematical equations aesthetic judgments extend beyond their sensory qualities and are also informed by semantics and knowledge. Therefore, to the extent t...
Preprint
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Evidence dating back a century suggests that humans are sensitive to and exhibit a preference for visual curvature. Recently, this effect has been observed in different age groups, human cultures, and primate species, suggesting that a preference for curvature might be universal. At the same time, several studies have found preference for curvature...
Article
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Military Breachers and Range Staff (MBRS) are subjected to repeated sub-concussive blasts, and they often report symptoms that are consistent with a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Biomarkers of blast injury would potentially aid blast injury diagnosis, surveillance and avoidance. Our objective was to identify plasma metabolite biomarkers in mi...
Article
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Working memory (WM) is the system responsible for maintaining and manipulating information, in the face of ongoing distraction. In turn, WM span is perceived to be an individual-differences construct reflecting the limited capacity of this system. Recently, however, there has been some evidence to suggest that WM capacity can increase through train...
Chapter
Following the rapid growth of neuroaesthetics, there was a need to systematize and organize the findings into a coherent and testable framework. With the “aesthetic triad,” the authors presented a model according to which aesthetic experience was viewed as the emergent property of the interaction of three large-scale systems in the brain: sensory-m...
Article
Hedonic evaluation of sensory objects varies from person to person. While this variability has been linked to differences in experience, little is known about why stimuli lead to different evaluations in different people. We used linear mixed-effects models to determine the extent to which the openness, contour, and ceiling height of interior space...
Article
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There is a growing literature demonstrating that a short regimen of NeuroTracker—a task that trains 3D multiple object tracking skills—can improve various aspects of cognition (attention, memory) and performance in regular and elite athletes. Vartanian et al. Military Psychology 28:353–360, (2016) extended the application of NeuroTracker to the mil...
Article
Traditionally, it has been assumed that logical thinking requires deliberation. However, people can also make logical responses quickly, exhibiting logical intuitions. We examined the neural correlates of logical intuitions by administering base rate problems during fMRI scanning using a two-response paradigm where participants first responded quic...
Article
Background Clinical administration of testosterone is widely used due to a variety of claimed physical and cognitive benefits. Testosterone administration is associated with enhanced brain and cognitive function, as well as mood, in energy-balanced males, although such relationships are controversial. However, the effects of testosterone administra...
Article
Preference for architectural interiors can be explained using three psychological dimensions: Coherence (ease for organizing and comprehending a scene), Fascination (a scene's informational richness and generated interest), and Hominess (how much a space feels personal). We tested the hypothesis that their contributions to preference might vary bas...
Article
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Judgments of liking and beauty appear to be expressions of a common hedonic state, but they differ in how they engage cognitive processes. We hypothesized that beauty judgments place greater demands on limited executive resources than judgments of liking. We tested this hypothesis by asking two groups of participants to judge works of visual art fo...
Preprint
Judgments of liking and beauty appear to be expressions of a common hedonic state, but they differ in how they engage cognitive processes. We hypothesized that beauty judgments place greater demands on limited executive resources than judgments of liking. We tested this hypothesis by asking two groups of participants to judge works of visual art fo...
Preprint
Full-text available
Hedonic evaluation of sensory objects varies from person to person. While this variability has been linked to differences in experience and personality traits, little is known about why stimuli lead to different evaluations in different people. We used linear mixed effect models to determine the extent to which the openness, contour, and ceiling he...
Preprint
This chapter offers a general overview of Empirical Aesthetics. It begins with a definition of the field’s main goals, a summary of its history from its modern foundations to the 1990s, and an introduction to contemporary accounts of aesthetic appreciation. We then highlight the key components of Empirical Aesthetics (object, person, and context),...
Article
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Introduction Recently, there has been increasing concern about the adverse health effects of long-term occupational exposure to low-level blast in military personnel. Occupational blast exposure occurs routinely in garrison through use of armaments and controlled blast detonations. In the current study, we focused on a population of breaching instr...
Article
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Currently, there is strong interest within the military to better understand the effects of long-term occupational exposure to repeated low-level blast on health and performance. To gain traction on the chronic sequelae of blast, we focused on breaching —a tactical technique for gaining entry into closed/blocked spaces by placing explosives and mai...
Article
Introduction We assessed the utility of a battery of neuropsychological, neurocognitive, physiological (balance, ataxia, postural tremor), and neuroimaging measures for studying the effects of blast waves in breachers—a population repeatedly exposed to low-level blast during military training and operations. Materials and Methods Data were collect...
Article
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Over the last 2 decades, we have begun to gain traction on the neural systems that support creative cognition. Specifically, a converging body of evidence from various domains has demonstrated that creativity arises from the interaction of two large-scale systems in the brain: Whereas the default network (DN) is involved in internally-oriented gene...
Article
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Divergent thinking tests have been used extensively in neuroscientific studies of creativity. However, output from tests of divergent thinking can be scored in different ways, and those scores can influence assessments of divergent thinking performance and its relationship with brain activation. Here we sought to investigate the relationship betwee...
Article
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People spend considerable time within built environments. In this study, we tested two hypotheses about the relationship between people and built environments. First, aesthetic responses to architectural interiors reduce to a few key psychological dimensions that are sensitive to design features. Second, these psychological dimensions evoke specifi...
Chapter
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Translated version of "What have we learned since Neuroaesthetics?"
Preprint
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Preface written for the second edition of the Korean translation of Neuroaesthetics.
Article
Introduction: The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) imposes a daily 4-hour (h)limit for operating unpressurized aircrafts, including helicopters, between 2,438 and 3,048 m (8,000 [8K] and 10,000 [10K] ft) if supplemental oxygen (O 2 ) is unavailable. This regulation may negatively impact RCAF operations because weight and space restrictions limit suf...
Article
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Background: Severe energy deficits during military operations, produced by significant increases in exercise and limited dietary intake, result in conditions that degrade lean body mass and lower-body muscle function, which may be mediated by concomitant reductions in circulating testosterone. Methods: We conducted a three-phase, proof-of-concep...
Article
Performance on the Alternate Uses Task can be measured using many approaches. The traditional approach involves scoring participants’ output based on indices such as fluency, originality, and flexibility. The subjective approach involves using experts to rate output directly on creativity (or related constructs). The definitional approach involves...
Article
The importance of speech intelligibility in learning and occupational environments is evidenced by the abundance of research in room acoustics and auditory communication. In addition to environmental factors such as background noise and reverberation, individual factors including the presence of hearing loss, wearing of hearing aids and hearing pro...
Article
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Neuroeconomics is the study of the neurobiological bases of subjective preferences and choices. We present a novel framework that synthesizes findings from the literatures on neuroeconomics and creativity to provide a neurobiological description of creative cognition. It proposes that value-based decision-making processes and activity in the locus...
Preprint
Full-text available
Neuroeconomics is the study of the neurobiological bases of subjective preferences and choices. We present a novel framework that synthesizes findings from the literatures on neuroeconomics and creativity to provide a neurobiological description of creative cognition. It proposes that value-based decision-making processes and activity in the locus...
Article
Background: The effects of acute mild hypoxic hypoxia (HH) and physical activity on physiological measures, signs and symptoms, mood, fatigue, cognition, and performance on a simulated flight task were investigated between 8000 (8K; 2438 m) and 14,000 ft (14K; 4267 m). Method: In a hypobaric chamber, 16 military helicopter pilots were randomly e...
Article
Numerous studies have examined the effects of captivity survival training on psychological and physiological function in trainees. In the present study we shifted the focus to instructors, and measured the effects that the delivery of training exerts on their levels of stress and performance. Because instructors are called upon to perform difficult...
Article
Performance on heuristics and biases tasks has been shown to be susceptible to bias. In turn, susceptibility to bias varies as a function of individual differences in cognitive abilities (e.g., intelligence) and thinking styles (e.g., propensity for reflection). Using a classic task (i.e., lawyer-engineer problem), we conducted two experiments to e...
Article
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Openness/Intellect (i.e., openness to experience) is the Big Five personality factor most consistently associated with individual differences in creativity. Recent psychometric evidence has demonstrated that this factor consists of two distinct aspects—Intellect and Openness. Whereas Intellect reflects perceived intelligence and intellectual engage...
Article
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Introduction Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) training imposes psychophysiological stress on medics. It is unclear whether these stress levels vary with the training modalities selected. It is also unclear how stress levels could have an impact on medical performance and skill uptake. Materials and Methods We conducted a pilot study to compare...
Article
Humans rely on topographical memory to encode information about spatial aspects of environments. However, even though people adopt different strategies when learning new maps, little is known about the impact of those strategies on topographical memory, and their neural correlates. To examine that issue, we presented participants with 40 unfamiliar...
Article
Contrary to earlier approaches that focused on the contributions of isolated brain regions to the emergence of creativity, there is now growing consensus that creative thought emerges from the interaction of multiple brain regions, often embedded within larger brain networks. Specifically, recent evidence from studies of divergent thinking suggests...
Article
Fatigue has become an increasing problem in our modern society. Using MATLAB as a generic modeling tool, a fatigue model was developed based on an existing one and compared with a commercial fatigue software for prediction of cognitive performance under total and partial sleep deprivation. The flexibility of our fatigue model allowed additions of n...
Book
Historically, the brain bases of creativity have been of great interest to scholars and the public alike. However, recent technological innovations in the neurosciences, coupled with theoretical and methodological advances in creativity assessment, have enabled humans to gain unprecedented insights into the contributions of the brain to creative th...
Article
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Much evidence suggests that preference for curvilinear visual contour is robust. We collected data from experts (i.e., self-identified architects and designers) and nonexperts to test the hypothesis that expertise moderates one’s sensitivity to curvilinear contour within architectural spaces. When assessing beauty, experts found rectilinear spaces...
Article
We commend Menninghaus et al. for tackling the role of negative emotions in art reception. However, their model suffers from shortcomings that reduce its applicability to empirical studies of the arts: poor use of evidence, lack of integration with other models, and limited derivation of testable hypotheses. We argue that theories about art experie...
Article
Task switching is a ubiquitous feature of many human activities that involve multitasking. In addition, owing to occupational demands, many individuals are required to engage in task switching under various levels of sleep deprivation, such as those who work in military and medical contexts. Nevertheless, little is known about the effects that slee...
Preprint
Neuroeconomics is the study of the neurobiological bases of subjective preferences and choices. We present a novel framework that synthesizes findings from the literatures on neuroeconomics and creativity to provide a neurobiological description of creative cognition. It proposes that value-based decision-making processes and activity in the locus...
Article
A burgeoning interest in the intersection of neuroscience and architecture promises to offer biologically inspired insights into the design of spaces. The goal of such interdisciplinary approaches to architecture is to motivate construction of environments that would contribute to peoples' flourishing in behavior, health, and well-being. We suggest...
Article
Background: The physiological consequences of severe energy deficit include hypogonadism and the loss of fat-free mass. Prolonged energy deficit also impacts physical performance, mood, attentiveness, and decision-making capabilities. This study will determine whether maintaining a eugonadal state during severe, sustained energy deficit attenuates...
Article
In the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), Conduct After Capture (CAC) training is a 4-day captivity survival course during which soldiers are exposed to increasing stress, and evaluated on their ability to accomplish military objectives. We hypothesized that: (a) compared to baseline, CAC training would cause significant, reversible perturbations in meas...
Article
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A preference for smooth curvature, as opposed to angularity, is a well-established finding for lines, two-dimensional shapes, and complex objects, but little is known about individual differences. We used two-dimensional black-and-white shapes—randomly generated irregular polygons, and arrays of circles and hexagons—and measured many individual dif...
Article
Within the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the Tactical Medicine (TACMED) course is used to train medical technicians (i.e., medics) in battlefield trauma care. Although training is administered using both simulators (SIM) and live tissue (LT), little is known about their relative effects on stress and cognitive function in this context. To address th...
Article
We tested whether the characteristics of a person's personality can be assessed by an automated analysis of the semantic content of a person's written text. Participants completed a questionnaire measuring the so-called Big Five personality traits. They also composed five short essays in which they were asked to describe what they would do and how...
Article
Beginning in the 1950s, the Institute of Personality Assessment and Research (IPAR) began a program of research to study the psychology of effectively functioning persons. Among the most influential series of studies conducted by IPAR were the assessments of highly creative architects in 1957-1961, a sample that included some of the most eminent ar...
Article
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Background: Work-related traumatic brain injury (wrTBI) comprises up to 24% of TBIs, yet relatively little is known about it even though wrTBI incurs high costs to employers, insurers, and injured. Objectives: To compare demographic, clinical, and occupation-related factors following mild-to-moderate TBI of those who successfully returned to wor...
Article
Recently, there has been much theoretical and applied interest in the prospects of cognitive training for improving cognition. NeuroTracker is a relatively recent training device for improving dynamic attention in athletes by training 3D multiple-object tracking skills. We examined its effectiveness for improving working memory (WM) span in members...
Article
Aesthetic evaluations are appraisals that influence choices in important domains of human activity, including mate selection, consumer behavior, art appreciation, and possibly even moral judgment. The nascent field of neuroaesthetics is advancing our understanding of the role of aesthetic evaluations by examining their biological bases. Here, we co...
Article
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The field of neuroaesthetics has gained in popularity in recent years but also attracted criticism from the perspectives both of the humanities and the sciences. In an effort to consolidate research in the field, we characterize neuroaesthetics as the cognitive neuroscience of aesthetic experience, drawing on long traditions of research in empirica...
Chapter
There is now general consensus that creativity is a componential trait, manifest as a function of the contribution of relevant capacities. Therefore, theoretically, one should expect to observe gains in creativity when those specific capacities are enhanced via training. Video games represent a potential method for enhancing specific capacities rel...
Conference Paper
Within the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) context, the Tactical Medicine (TACMED) course is used to train Medical Technicians (i.e., medics) in the treatment of preventable causes of death on the battlefield. During TACMED training, skill acquisition is assessed based on performance on several combat casualty care skill sets. Although training can be...
Article
Full-text available
To explore how individuals with work-related mild traumatic brain injury (wrMTBI) experience return-to-work (RTW) processes when returning to the workplace where the injury occurred. RTW experiences were explored using in-depth interviews and an inductive analytic approach. Qualitative analysis guided by the research question moved through phases o...
Article
Trauma procedural and management skills are often learned on live tissue. However, there is increasing pressure to use simulators because their fidelity improves and as ethical concerns increase. We randomized military medical technicians (medics) to training on either simulators or live tissue to learn combat casualty care skills to determine if t...
Article
Full-text available
N-back working memory (WM) tasks necessitate the maintenance and updating of dynamic rehearsal sets during performance. The delayed matching-to-sample (dMTS) task is another WM task, which in turn involves the encoding, maintenance, and retrieval of stimulus representations in sequential order. Because both n-back and dMTS engage WM function, we hy...
Article
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Despite the fact that most real-world reasoning occurs in some emotional context, very little is known about the underlying behavioral and neural implications of such context. To further understand the role of emotional context in logical reasoning we scanned 15 participants with fMRI while they engaged in logical reasoning about neutral syllogisms...
Article
BackgroundA convenient biosensor for real-time measurement of biomarkers for in-field psychophysiological stress research and military operations is desirable. We evaluated a hand-held device for measuring salivary amylase as a stress marker in medical technicians undergoing combat casualty care training using two different modalities in operating...
Article
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Objective: The objective was to investigate the interaction between the mode of performance outcome feedback and task difficulty on timing decisions (i.e., when to act). Background: Feedback is widely acknowledged to affect task performance. However, the extent to which feedback display mode and its impact on timing decisions is moderated by tas...
Article
The objective of this study was to gain an understanding of workers' experiences with returning to work, the challenges they experienced, and the supports they found most beneficial when returning to work after a workplace electrical injury. Thirteen semistructured qualitative telephone interviews were conducted with individuals who experienced an...
Article
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Categorization is fundamental to cognition, and evidence suggests that categorizing emotional stimuli holds a privileged position in human information processing. According to theories on embodied emotion, the subjective emotional feeling elicited by a stimulus plays a causal role in its categorization. Using functional MRI, we tested the hypothesi...
Article
Categorization is fundamental to cognition, and evidence suggests that categorizing emotional stimuli holds a privileged position in human information processing. According to theories of embodied emotion, the subjective emotional feeling elicited by a stimulus plays a causal role in its categorization. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (...
Article
Neuroaesthetics is an emerging discipline within cognitive neuroscience that is concerned with understanding the biological bases of aesthetic experiences. These experiences involve appraisals of natural objects, artifacts, and environments. Because aesthetic encounters are common in everyday life, exploration of their biological bases can deepen o...